Matt Lauer, the iconic anchor of NBC's "Today" show, finally spoke about the controversial departure of Ann Curry in an exclusive interview with the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz
Believed by many to have orchestrated the demotion of co-anchor Curry, Lauer suffered a public bashing after she was ousted in June 2012.
"I don’t think the show and the network handled the transition well," Lauer told the Daily Beast. "You don’t have to be Einstein to know that... It clearly did not help us. We were seen as a family, and we didn’t handle a family matter well."
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Curry started as one of the show's newsreaders in 1997, and was promoted in 2011 following Meredith Vieira's exit. But she never really clicked with Lauer, and the ratings plummeted. In April 2012, ABC's "Good Morning America" moved ahead of "Today" in the weekly ratings race for the first time in 16 years, according to Brad Adgate, media analyst for Horizon Media. Curry was then demoted to correspondent-at-large and replaced on "Today" by Savannah Guthrie
While it's true Lauer didn’t have as much chemistry with Curry as he did with former co-anchors Vieira or Katie Couric, insiders say he urged management to put off firing Curry. He reportedly counseled her to secure an agent and even offered to resign himself.
"He was quietly and publicly a supporter of Ann’s throughout the entire process," Steve Capus, the former NBC News president, told the Daily Beast. "It is unfair that Matt has shouldered an undue amount of blame for a decision he disagreed with."
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In the interview, Lauer revealed that he approached Couric to join him again as co-anchor before Curry was officially promoted. He also was in talks to join Couric's syndicated daytime talk show, "Katie," but decided against it and reportedly signed a new $25 million deal with NBC in April 2012.
Lauer has been a fixture on the "Today" show since 1994.
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